The 1989 baseball season ended with disaster. At 5:04 p.m. on October 17 in San Francisco's Candlestick Park -- just a half-hour before game three of the 1989 World Series -- fans and players felt a vibration. For a few seconds, they didn't know what to make of the tremors, but then the reality dawned: Earthquake.
When the quake ended, Candlestick Park was still intact -- there were even plans to start the game on time. That was, of course, before the billions of dollars of damage began to unfold. The earthquake measured 7.1 on the Richter Scale, the largest in San Francisco since an 8.3 in 1906.
As the disaster became evident, commissioner Fay Vincent postponed game three indefinitely, putting the contest into perspective by calling the World Series "our modest little sporting event."
The Bay Area earthquake was the biggest tragedy in a year filled with dark moments. In August, after months of investigation, Reds manager Pete Rose was banned from baseball for life for allegedly betting on his own team.
Commissioner Bart Giamatti died of a heart attack September 1. Baseball stars Wade Boggs and Steve Garvey made scandalous headlines when they were sued by women with whom they had affairs. And in December, Billy Martin was killed in a truck crash.
The turmoil overshadowed some impressive on-field performances, especially by relief pitchers. Virtually every team had a standout closer, and baseball's relievers totaled an unprecedented 1,079 saves. Among the stellar stoppers were San Diego's Mark Davis (44 saves, 1.85 ERA), Texas' Jeff Russell (38 saves, 1.98 ERA), and Oakland's Dennis Eckersley (33 saves, 1.56 ERA). Davis won the 1989 National League Cy Young Award, while Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen (23-6, 2.13 ERA) took the American League crown.
In a pitcher's year, San Francisco's Kevin Mitchell posted giant numbers (47 homers, 125 RBI). Mitchell was named 1989 National League MVP, while Milwaukee's Robin Yount (.318, 21 homers, 103 RBI) won his second American League MVP prize.
The Baltimore Orioles were the darlings of 1989. After losing 107 games in 1988, the "Baby Birds" hung in the 1989 pennant race until the final weekend, before bowing to Toronto.
The playoffs, though, were dominated by just two men: San Francisco's Will Clark and Oakland's Rickey Henderson. Against Chicago in the NLCS, Clark set National League playoff records for batting average (.650), hits (13), extra-base hits (six), total bases (24), and slugging (1.200). Clark cracked a grand slam in game one, and won game five with a two-run, eighth-inning single.
Despite Clark's virtuosity, however, perhaps the best LCS performance ever belonged to Oakland leadoff man Henderson. In a five-game set against Toronto, Henderson won the first contest with a takeout slide, swiped four bases in game two, and powered two homers in game four. In all, Henderson led the series in runs (eight), on-base percentage (.609), slugging (1.000), home runs (two), RBI (five), total bases (15), and steals (eight, including a tiptoed non-slide into second which infuriated the Blue Jays).
Oakland dominated the first two games of the 1989 World Series, outscoring San Francisco 10-1. Ten days passed before game three was played, but it was the same story. The A's clubbed the Giants 13-7 and 9-6, completing the first Series sweep since 1976.
Dave Stewart, who started games one and three, was named MVP, but the award could have gone to Rickey Henderson (.474 average), Dave Henderson (.923 slugging percentage), Carney Lansford (.438 average), or Terry Steinbach (seven RBI).
See the next page for headlines and summaries of the top stories from the 1989 baseball season.
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1989 Baseball Season HeadlinesIn 1989, the season's bright spots were nearly overshadowed by scandal and tragedy. Here are some of the headlines from the 1989 baseball season:
Kirby Puckett Wins 1989 American League Bat Title
Kirby Puckett pounded out a .339 average to capture the 1989 American League batting title and become just the second righty in 20 years to seize the crown. The Twins' center fielder bested the loop with 215 hits while tallying 85 RBI that season. As a testament to his fielding prowess, he captured his fourth Gold Glove Award that year.
Robin Yount Takes Second MVP
Robin Yount became the first player ever to win an MVP Award at two different positions. He had won one at shortstop for the Brewers in 1982 and -- after moving out of the infield due to a serious knee injury -- copped another MVP trophy as a center fielder in 1989. In 1989, Yount hit .318 with 21 home runs, 103 RBI, 101 runs scored, and a .511 slugging percentage.
Bret Saberhagen Wins 1989 Cy Young
Bret Saberhagen returned to his 1985 pitching form, as he captured the 1989 American League Cy Young Award. The Royals righty put up a circuit-topping 23 wins and 2.16 ERA that season, the lowest mark in the loop since 1978. Known for pitching well in odd years and poorly in even years, Saberhagen fell to 5-9 in 1990.
Mr. Clean Hit by Dirt
Steve Garvey once said: "God has laid out the game plan. I walk around as if a little boy or a little girl was following me and I don't do anything physically or mentally to take away from the ideal they might have for Steve Garvey." His words came back to haunt the former ballplayer in 1989. He was slapped with paternity suits from two different women that year.
Wade Boggs Drops to .330 BA
Wade Boggs was dragged through the mud in 1989, as his affair with Margo Adams made scandalous headlines. Boggs was so affected that his season average plummeted to .330, lowering his career average to .352. For the first time in five years, Boggs did not win the American League bat crown. Still, he led the league in runs (113), doubles (51), and on-base percentage (.430).
Jim Abbott Wins a Dozen
Jim Abbott inspired America in 1989 as he made his major league debut with the Angels. Born with only his left hand, the former Olympic and University of Michigan star pitcher jumped directly to the big leagues from his college team. Abbott both won and lost 12 games in 1989, collecting two shutouts. Despite his handicap, the pitcher was a star quarterback in high school.
Will Clark Thrills with .333 BA
Will Clark proved to be a hitting machine during the 1989 season, as he batted .333, collected 23 home runs and 111 RBI, and spearheaded the National League with 104 runs. Nicknamed "The Thrill," he was the latest in a splendid string of Giant first basemen including Hall of Famers George Kelly, Bill Terry, Johnny Mize, and Willie McCovey. In the 1989 League Championship Series, Clark turned in a towering .650 batting average with a pair of home runs and eight RBI. In that fall's World Series, he was good for a .250 average.
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More 1989 Baseball Headlines
Below are more headlines from the 1989 baseball season, including an All-Star player's banishment, and a World Series postponed because of a tragedy.
Jack Clark Good for 26 HRs
Jack Clark was one of the most enigmatic players of the 1980s. Between 1984 and 1989, he played on four different teams -- that is, when he wasn't on the disabled list. In 1989 with San Diego, Clark led the league in walks (132), yet was second in strikeouts (145). He was second in the National League in on-base percentage (.410), yet hit just .242. Nevertheless, Clark remained a reliable power hitter, smacking 26 home runs in 1989.
Aging Bob Boone Rolls Along
In 1989, Bob Boone extended his Major League record for most games at catcher to 2,183. Boone, who along with Carlton Fisk is the only player to catch regularly past the age of 40, showed no let-up in 1989. At age 42, he caught 131 games and batted .274-20 points higher than his career average. He even stole three bases that season.
Ozzie Smith Tops in Fielding
Ozzie Smith closed out the decade by winning a record tenth consecutive Gold Glove Award. His fielding virtuosity, acknowledged as being the greatest of any shortstop ever, was rewarded by an annual salary of $2.34 million for three years (beginning in 1987), easily the highest compensation ever paid to a middle infielder at the time. Smith hit .273 and totaled 82 runs scored in 1989.
Bay Area Is Ravaged
Millions of television viewers who thought they were tuning in to the third game of the 1989 World Series instead saw a startling perspective of the Bay Bridge collapse. A day earlier, local fans boasted of the first-ever Bay Area Series. It was a bit of cruel irony that the bridge that linked the two Bay cities had collapsed.
Pete Rose Banned for Gambling
In one of the biggest scandals since the Black Sox, Pete Rose was banned from baseball for allegedly gambling on the Reds, the team he managed. Though evidence was not conclusive, many believed Rose actually bet on his team to lose. Rose suffered an even worse fate in 1990 when he was sentenced to prison for tax evasion. Many predicted that Rose's sins would deny him entry to the Hall of Fame. Few seemed to realize that Ty Cobb, a man who committed several brutal assaults, was the first man voted into the Hall.
Dennis Eckersley Saves the Day -- Again
Dennis Eckersley was mobbed by his teammates after the hurler saved game four of the 1989 World Series. Oakland won the decisive game 9-6. Since the first three games of the Series were blowouts, this was the only one Eckersley had a chance to save. The reliever displayed his skills in the American League Championship Series, though, saving four games against Boston in 1988 and three more against Toronto in 1989.
Rickey Henderson Leads A's to 1989 Title
The A's picked up Rickey Henderson from the Yankees in June 1989 and he sparked the team to the 1989 World Title. Henderson topped the league in runs (113) and walks (126), and led the American League in steals (77) for the ninth time. In the five-game American League Championship Series against Toronto, Henderson was unstoppable. He batted .400 with two homers, seven walks, eight steals, and eight runs.
Find highlights from the 1989 baseball season on the next page.
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1989 Baseball Season HighlightsThe 1989 baseball season was filled with its share of dark moments: An earthquake shook San Francisco during game 3 of the World Series, two players made scandalous headlines, and a baseball great was banned for life. Below are some of the highlights from the 1989 baseball season:
- A's cop their second straight American League flag.
- Giants win their first National League pennant since 1962.
- Giants defeat Cubs in five games in NLCS.
- Blue Jays fall to the A's in five games in ALCS.
- A's sweep Giants in the most one-sided World Series ever.
- A massive earthquake in San Francisco prior to game three forces a ten-day delay of the 1989 World Series.
Tim Raines achieved the
highest career stolen
base percentage in major
league history (.867).
- Tim Raines has highest career stolen base pct. in major league history (.867).
- Dave Stewart was voted 1989 World Series MVP, winning two games.
- KC's Bret Saberhagen wins his second American League Cy Young Award.
- San Diego reliever Mark Davis wins the National League Cy Young Award.
- SF's Kevin Mitchell is named 1989 National League MVP, topping the major league in homers (47), RBI (125), SA (.635), and total bases (345).
- Robin Yount wins his second American League MVP Award and is the first player to win the honor at two different positions.
- Kirby Puckett tops the majors with a .339 BA and 215 hits.
- Ranger Ruben Sierra tops American League in SA (.543), RBI (119), triples (14), and total bases (344).
- Nolan Ryan Ks his 5,000th victim, Rickey Henderson.
- Ryan tops the major league with 301 Ks and becomes, at 42, the game's oldest strikeout king.
- Cardinal Vince Coleman steals a major league record 50 consecutive bases without being caught.
- Pete Rose is banned from baseball for gambling activities.
- Commissioner Bart Giamatti dies of heart attack shortly after banning Rose.
- Wade Boggs collects 200 hits for 20th-century record seventh consecutive year.
- Baltimore's Gregg Olson is 1989 American League Rookie of the Year after he sets a new American League rookie saves record with 27.
- Chicago's Jerome Walton is 1989 National League Rookie of the Year.
- American League wins 1989 All-Star Game 5-3 at Anaheim -- the first time since 1958 that the American League has won two games in a row.
- Orioles improve to 87-75, a gain of 32½ games over 1988.
- Toronto's Tony Fernandez makes just six errors and sets a major league FA record for shortstops (.992).
- Network and TV contracts give major league teams $230 million.
- Angel Jim Abbott, the first one-handed pitcher since the 1880s, wins 12 games and strikes out 115 batters.
- Boggs and Steve Garvey both make headlines when they're sued by women with whom they've had affairs.
- Houston's Terry Puhl ends the season with the best career FA of any outfielder in Major League history (.993).
- Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Jr. are first father and son in major league history to be active in majors at the same time.
- Sky Dome opens June 5, Milwaukee vs. Toronto.
- In their new home, Blue Jays set a new American League attendance record.
- Billy Martin dies in a truck crash.
- Free agent Mark Davis signs with Royals after topping the major league with 44 saves for San Diego.
- Saberhagen leads the majors with 23 wins and has the major league's top win pct. (.793).
- Tony Gwynn wins National League bat crown (.336).
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More 1989 Baseball Season Highlights
Below are more headlines from the 1989 baseball season, including year-end awards, big trades, and Hall of Fame inductees.
- Ozzie Smith sets a major league record for shortstops when he cops his tenth Gold Glove.
Smith sets a major league record when he tops the National
League, for the ninth time in assists by a shortstop.
- The Hall of Fame inducts Johnny Bench, Carl Yastrzemski, Red Schoendienst, and Al Barlick.
- Former Angels reliever Donnie Moore commits suicide.
- Bill Terry dies.
- Field of Dreams, featuring legend Joe Jackson, is one of the top movies of the year.
- Yankees deal Henderson back to A's for Luis Polonia, Eric Plunk, and Greg Cadaret.
- Minnesota trades ace lefthander Frank Viola to Mets for Rick Aguilera and four pitchers.
For the fourth straight season, major league teams have 24-man rosters;
teams have the option to take on a 25th player but none do.
- Dodgers extend their major league record by playing their 84th consecutive season without finishing in the cellar.
- Kent Tekulve retires with record for most career relief appearances without ever starting a game (1,050).
- Henderson ties an American League record when he tops the American League for ninth time in steals.
- Philly's Tommy Herr ends the 1989 season with the best career FA by a second baseman (.988).
- Bob Boone extends his major league record for most games as a catcher -- 2,183 through 1989.
For the second time since 1959, righthanded batters finish one-two
in the American League bat race -- Kirby Puckett at .339 and Oakland's Carney
Lansford at .336.
- Wade Boggs tops majors with 51 doubles and ties for lead in runs (113).
- Boggs tops the major league for the fifth year in a row in OBP (.430).
- Texas' Jeff Russell paces American League with 38 saves.
- Saberhagen tops majors with just 12 CGs -- the fewest ever for a major league best.
San Diego's Bruce Hurst and LA's Tim Belcher top National League in
CGs with just ten -- the fewest ever by a loop leader.
- Saberhagen tops majors with 262 innings -- the fewest ever by a major league leader.
- Orel Hershiser sets a new National League record for fewest innings by a leader (257).
- Belcher tops the major league with eight shutouts despite working only ten CGs.
- SF's Robby Thompson leads National League with 11 triples.
- Houston's Mike Scott is the only National League hurler to win as many as 20 games.
- Stewart wins 21 games and Mike Moore and Storm Davis win 19 each to give the A's 59 wins from their top three hurlers.
- Giants' Scott Garrelts paces National League in ERA (2.28).
- Comeback Player of the Year Lonnie Smith of Atlanta tops the National League in OBP (.415) and is third in batting (.315).
- San Diego's Jack Clark tops National League in walks (132) and has .410 OBP despite hitting only .242.
- Toronto's Fred McGriff tops American League in homers (36).
Cleveland's Joe Carter trails McGriff by only one homer for an American
League crown and has 105 RBI, but hits just .243 and has a
dismal .292 OBP.
- California's Bert Blyleven achieves 3,500 Ks.
Cardinal Pedro Guerrero and Expo Tim Wallach tie for National
League lead in doubles with 42; Guerrero is also second in RBI (117).
- Mets' Howard Johnson is a member of the 30/30 club for second time as he swipes 41 bases and bangs 36 homers.
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